Features: June '15

Our guide to the perfect bathroom

by Alexandra Thomas on June 16, 2015
sideboards display cabinet
Inside Out Bathroom Cabinet with Double Door

Our handy guide is full of hints and tips to help you create your dream bathroom.

Often the smallest room in the home, bathroom planning can be a bit of headache, with dilemmas such as what flooring to choose and whether you should have a shower or a bath raising a multitude of questions. Our handy guide is here to help you through the process and create the bathroom you really want and need.

Planning and measuring

Planning and measuring your bathroom should be fairly easy; particularly if you’re planning on leaving every component, e.g. bath, basin, shower, etc in the same place. It’s then just a simple case of measuring your existing bathroom furniture and making sure everything fits. If you’re thinking of a complete overhaul including moving baths, basins and showers around, then you’ll need to enlist the help of a plumber who will be able to show you exactly what can go where according to where the water supply comes in.

Deciding whether you want a bath or shower really comes down to space and personal choice, but the general thinking is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If you have room, opt for both. After all there’s nothing like an invigorating morning or after-gym shower to get you going, while equally you probably want a relaxing bath after a hard day at work.

If you don’t have room for a shower cubicle, consider an over-bath shower. There’s a wide range to choose from which will suit both classic and contemporary schemes. Choosing to have both a fixed large showerhead along with a moveable one attached to a riser is a good idea as the larger fixed head will provide a powerful shower while the moveable showerhead can be used for cleaning and washing hair over the bath.

bathroom
Wireworks Dark Oak Mezza Revolve Cabinet

When it comes to toliets, technology ranges from heated seats to models with jets that will wash your bits and pieces! If you’re happy with a bog-standard (sorry about that) toilet design, the only decision you’ll need to make is whether to opt for freestanding or wall-hung, the latter of which saves valuable floor space. This is the same when it comes to basins; a pedestal basin can look great but one which is hung on the wall will take up less room and make your bathroom feel less crowded.

Basins now come in a plethora of materials from concrete to marble, glass to copper so you’re guaranteed to find one which suits both your budget and your style. Unless you have loads of room or are desperate for one, consider leaving out a bidet – they’re best left to hotels and only take up unnecessary space.

Choosing tiles

When it comes to tiles, the choice is almost endless with hundreds of colours, numerous materials and a wide choice of designs available - again, it really comes down to personal choice and budget. A whole tiled bathroom can be expensive but looks great and is easy to keep clean. If you can’t afford to tile the whole bathroom, don’t skimp around the basin area and ensure you tile as high as you can around the bath. Over the last few years, tile layouts have become increasingly more interesting than simply stacking tiles on top and by the side of each other so, if you want to create an impressive display, think about choosing brick, mosaic or herringbone layouts to add some interest.

If you’re going to have a tiled floor in your bathroom, consider opting for a darker tile (and/or darker grout), which won’t show up every speck of dirt and will be easier to keep clean.

Walls and floors

It’s not just tiles that can bring bathroom floors and walls to life, there’s a whole host of other ways to add pattern and colour. When it comes to flooring, it might sound obvious but avoid carpet – it will only smell mouldy when wet. Rubber, vinyl or specially treated wood/laminate flooring is a good idea and all three come in a wide range of colours and styles.

Walls should be painted with a product designed for the bathroom so it can cope with heat and condensation; there’s a good range of colours available from all the well-known paint manufacturers so you’re bound to find something that fits in with your colour scheme.

If your bathroom is particularly small, consider mirroring one wall, which will add a feeling of increased space and light.

Furniture and accessories

Bathrooms create lots of clutter so storage furniture is a must. Fitted furniture is a good idea if you want to make the most of your space. Look for wall hung cabinets which can be used to hide away all your lotions and potions while shelves or racks can be used to stash fresh towels.

toilet brush
Plush Brush Designer Loo Brush

When it comes to accessories, as well as adding the usual toothbrush holder and soap dishes, try decanting shampoos, conditioners and shower gels into pretty glass bottles for a more glamorous look.

Taking care of your bathroom

There’s little point in creating a beautiful bathroom only to not look after it and keep it looking its best. Bathrooms are notoriously prone to damp, condensation and mould which, left untreated, can damage walls and floors, look unsightly, as well as being bad for your health. Ventilation is key to helping prevent mould forming so, if you don’t have a window, make sure you have a powerful extractor fan.

If you opt for an enamel bath, these can easily become chipped; repair kits are available which can make the enamel look as good as new but it’s always best to repair a chip as soon as it appears. It might sound obvious, but regular cleaning will ensure your bathroom looks its best. Non-abrasive cleaners are best, especially when it comes to cleaning chrome and delicate or decorative tiling.

How to add bold pattern

by Alexandra Thomas on June 09, 2015
wallpaper
Ferm Living Gracewood Wallpaper

Go brave and find out how to add bold pattern to your home.

If you crave some excitement and are fed up with boring white walls and dull furniture, then read on to discover how you can get a whole new look by adding some bold pattern to your home.

Wallpaper

While it might seem an obvious choice, using wallpaper to add bold pattern to your walls is a pretty fail-safe move.

If you’re wanting to go full-on bold, you can go the whole hog and paper the entire room, which is certain to create a strong style statement. However, selecting a bold pattern in subtle, neutral tones can make it easier to live with.

Take time choosing your pattern to make sure you will still like it a year down the line by hanging large samples of your favourite options before committing to papering the whole room.

Flooring

Good news is patterned carpet is no longer considered naff and, even better, there’s a plethora of designs to choose from. Vinyl flooring also now comes in a range of contemporary and classic designs allowing you to have a different patterned floor in every room in the home from the kitchen to the office!

Rugs offer a hassle-free alternative to permanent flooring. Look out for designs which have a bold central pattern, such as a large flower or a repeat geometric print, which work well in both contemporary and classic schemes. Faux animal print rugs can look particularly striking on hardwood floors or a neutral carpet.

rug
Zebra Print Cowhide

Paint

If you thought paint was just for creating plain walls, think again. Paint can be used to create a wide range of bold patterns, which are perfect for transforming your space.

The simplest design to start with, and probably the best for novices, is stripes. Stripes are timeless when it comes to interiors and suit all styles; all you need is a steady hand, your chosen paint colours and some masking tape. Then simply mask the widths of your stripes and get painting.

Thick stripes in two colours will create a bold statement or you could try a candy-stripe effect and paint thinner stripes in a range of colours for a seaside, beach-hut look which works particularly well in the bathroom.

Furniture

Most people play it safe when it comes to choosing furniture, but the odd statement piece or two covered in a boldly patterned fabric can create a strong style statement.

Contemporary and bright patchwork armchairs and sofas are popular and work well when used as an accent piece teamed with other neutral furniture.

chair
Peacock Patchwork Chair

Introducing an upholstered headboard for your bed is a great way to bring bold pattern into your bedroom. Team it with bed linen in a complementary colour for a really polished look.

Accessories

If you’re still not feeling brave enough to go for furniture or wallpaper, accessories offer the perfect way to add some bold pattern with minimum fuss and commitment.

There is a huge range of patterned cushions to choose from - from bold florals and psychedelic, retro prints to brave geometrics - so it completely comes down to personal choice.

A patterned throw or bedspread will instantly lift dull chairs, sofas and beds while patterned china is great for livening up a boring dinner table.

The trick with boldly patterned accessories is to stick to the same colour palette so it doesn’t feel too overbearing.

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Our guide to the perfect kitchen

by Alexandra Thomas on June 08, 2015
bar stool
Rattan Bar Stool - great for breakfast bars

Check out our tips for making your kitchen the perfect heart of your home.

Renovating a kitchen can be expensive and, as one of the most important rooms in the home, it pays to get it right. From measuring to choosing lighting and appliances, read on as we take you through a step-by-step journey on how to create the perfect kitchen for you.

Measuring

When renovating a kitchen, correct measuring is essential. After all you don’t want to splash out thousands of pounds only to find the end cupboard door can’t open because there’s a wall in the way. Make sure you have a friend with you as trying to use a tape measure and write numbers down on your own will only lead to confusion. If you don’t feel confident in taking the measurements yourself, get a professional in to do it for you.

Taking pictures of the space can also help you and others working on the renovation, so take quick snapshots of each area, print them out and label with the corresponding measurements. Once you have all the details, you can start planning your dream kitchen.

Planning the layout

There are lots of different kitchen layouts to choose from but whichever you go for, you should ensure that the elements you use together are in close proximity so that the kitchen works harder for you. So, ideally, the sink should be next to the dishwasher, and you should allow a decent sized preparation area next to the hob and oven.

In terms of style, a galley-type kitchen (where units run down either side of the wall) will make the most of a narrow space, while an L-shaped kitchen maximises space using a corner of the room, perfect, for example, if you want to have an open plan kitchen and dining space.

When planning the layout also consider whether you want to incorporate a breakfast bar or kitchen island, or what you want to place in front of any windows. Remember to think about where the doors are and how they open, and where you’ll want to incorporate freestanding appliances.

stool
Skagen Oak Breakfast Table and Stools Set

It's great if you have room to include a kitchen table and chairs, alternatively a breakfast bar with stools works well if you have less space available.

Choosing a style

There is a myriad of kitchen styles available so it really does come down to personal choice. You needn’t feel pressured to choose a kitchen style which fits in with the age of your house - for example a high gloss, contemporary kitchen can look great in a period property - so don’t be afraid to experiment.

You will also need to consider if you would like fitted or freestanding furniture. Fitted furniture is best if you want to maximise every inch of space, while freestanding furniture is great for those who want to give their kitchen a bespoke feel. If you like the idea of both, try mixing and matching, by incorporating fitted base units with open wall shelves and freestanding furniture such as kitchen islands and pantries.

Think carefully about what you’re going to use your cupboards and drawers for before deciding on your configurations. For example, deep drawers are often better as a hiding place for big saucepans and dishes than cupboards, while dividers for your drawers are essential if you want to keep them clutter free.

Picking appliances

There is a plethora of kitchen appliances available, so what style you choose again comes down to personal choice. Go for the biggest fridge and freezer combination you can and, if you don’t have room for both, consider housing your freezer in the garage, utility room or basement – ditto the washing machine.

There can be a desire to buy every small appliance you can lay your eyes on but, to avoid cluttered worktops and cupboards full of once-used bread makers, try and stick to just what you need.

furnish
Kenwood kMix Brights Stand Mixer - Orange

A colourful kettle and toaster will add a pop of colour and interest to your kitchen and remember to leave plenty of worktop space for appliances which get regular use, such as mixers and coffee machines.

Flooring and lighting

Flooring in a kitchen should be super easy to keep clean and as waterproof as possible, so it may be worth opting for vinyl, rubber flooring or tiles. Another option, which has become popular in recent years, is concrete floors - these can be expensive, but are a great option if you want to achieve an industrial-style kitchen.

Getting your lighting right in the kitchen is vital. Maximise the most of your natural light by getting rid of unnecessary window treatments and think carefully about where to put your electric light. If you have mounted wall units, installing lights under these is the perfect way to illuminate worktops, while having spotlights, which can be directed towards your hob and oven, are a must.

Pendant lights can look particularly striking when hung in a row above a kitchen island while wall lights can work well in a dining area to create an atmospheric glow.